By Shubhangi Shah
Since its launch in 2009, cryptocurrencies have seen towering highs and steep lows. From bitcoin, the most popular digital currency, reaching a price as high as $46,715 to investors being siphoned off $600 million, a lot has happened in the world of cryptocurrencies this year. It might be impossible to challenge the popularity of this digital money, but countries have taken a cautious path.
Starting April 1, profits made on the cryptocurrency trade are taxed at 30% in India. At the same time, Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has fallen short of legalising it. “I am not going to legalise it or ban it at this stage,” the FM had said earlier this year, making herself the target of numerous rib-tickling memes and jokes. However, the Reserve Bank of India is expected to launch the central bank digital currency (CBDC), dubbed as ‘Digital Rupee’, this financial year.
Bitcoin, the world’s first and most popular cryptocurrency, was invented by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009. Nothing is known about Satoshi, whether it’s in fact his (or her) real name or whether it’s just a person or a group. A south pacific island in Vanuatu is dubbed ‘Satoshi’, and all transactions there are made via digital currencies. The
privately-owned atoll is being advertised to become ‘the crypto capital of the world’.
When Ukraine passed the bill to legalise cryptocurrencies in February this year, it was a different time. There were no Russian tanks or soldiers on its soil (sans Crimea), and fighter jets didn’t violate its skies. A month into the war, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has signed the bill into law. Interestingly, the same leader had vetoed a similar bill passed in September last year. Since the war, Ukraine has received hundreds of millions of dollars in cryptocurrency as donations.
As Ukraine went all out with digital currency, Australia also took a step forward but with caution. ANZ (Australia and New Zealand Banking Group), the country’s third-largest lender, minted stablecoin on March 24, Australia’s first bank to do so. Stablecoin is a digital currency, just like bitcoin but supported by a reserve asset like gold or Fiat currency. Cutting the long story short, a stablecoin has the stability of Fiat currency with the freedom of digital. The ANZ said it minted 30 million of Australian dollar stablecoin, dubbed as A$DC.
As Australia took a step forward, Thailand took a step back. Starting April 1, it has banned the use of any digital currency as a payment option for commodities and services. However, trading and investment continue. The south-east Asian country has cited the stability of its financial system and the economy as the reasons behind its move.
The concern around crypto stems from the anonymity surrounding it, which has also made it the target of numerous frauds and heists. In one of the biggest such theft to date, a whopping $600 million worth of cryptocurrency was stolen from a blockchain network connected to Axie Infinity, the popular online game. The theft is reported to have happened on March 23 this year, but only came to light several days later.
Despite the sharp risks involved, cryptocurrencies garner widespread intrigue. The volatility involved is a concern, but that hasn’t affected the investors’ ambitions. The market is growing by the day and is for the world to witness if it will revolutionise the future of money or stoke financial instability.